Tag Archives: life skills

3 Insight Tips to Stress Management

As you progress through high school, you may start picking harder courses, taking on leadership roles in your extracurricular activities, and working on challenging projects over the summer. You are probably even doing all of these while trying to find times to hang out with your friends and spend time with your families.


That’s when it hits you – stress. You’re stressed about getting a good grade. You may be anxious about your upcoming AP exams and finals. You’re worried if you’ll be accepted to the summer research you really want to do. For rising high school seniors, you’re stressed about the college admissions process on top of everything else.


In this article, Insight College Admissions Counselor Priya Singh shares some common causes for stress and what you can do to manage stress.


(Much more of a visual/audio learner? Check out Priya’s video HERE)


What causes stress?

There are many factors that cause stress. For one, it could be environmental. For example, if your desk is really cluttered, your brain is going to feel cluttered. Your stress level can go up when you can’t make sense of your physical space. Also, whatever you see in your environment gets mirrored in your brain. If you see a messy desk or a messy room, the dread of cleaning or the disorienting feeling of clutter can increase your stress level.


Keep a Good Posture

bad posture can add more stressThe other cause for stress is, surprisingly, your posture. When you’re sitting in a slumping fashion, you’re constricting the flow of your circulation. Let’s take a step back and think about how your body is structured. The main component of your body is your spine, and your energy runs through your spine. If you think about it, many people can survive without an arm or a leg. However, if something happens to your spine, your energy gets blocked. Think of your spine as a straw. When you tighten a rubber band around it, it’s harder to drink tea or boba through the straw. Therefore, keeping your body straight and stretching your spine are very important in stress management.


Why is your spine so important? Your biggest nerve runs parallel to your spine. It runs from the base of your skull and goes all the way to your legs. When you breathe, your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems get energized with your breaths.



Whenever you’re sitting for a prolonged period of time, take 5 minutes to do some breathing exercise. Inhale through your nose, feel the air pass through your throat, and fill your belly with air. After the long, slow inhalation, exhale just as slowly. Repeat this for 10-15 times. You can do these deep breathing exercises with your eye closed. Definitely do not do them while you’re on your phone scrolling through TikTok. The goal is to focus on your breathing and keep a quiet mind.


You should do this breathing exercise for every 45 minutes you spent studying or scrolling on your phone. It really helps to slow your heart rate and calm your mind. If you’re really short on time, you can do this during your drive or your morning shower. Doing this simple breathing exercise 6-7 times a day can be helpful in stress management.



Let’s not Forget about Exercising

Have you ever felt slow and tired after sitting at your desk for a while? That’s because your blood circulation slows down in your body when you stay in the same pose and concentrate for so long. It’s your body’s way of telling you, “Let’s change things up!”


The other important tool in stress management is physical exercise. There are many forms of exercise, and you can choose to do what makes you happy. For example, you can jog or power walk around your neighborhood during a study break. You can do stretches or yoga. The main goal is to increase blood circulation so that you feel energized.


Final Advice

Declutter your room, keep your posture straight, take deep breathes, and exercise. These practices may sound simple, but they are effective. It’s also important for you to understand that you’re not the only one feeling this way. Every student experiences anxiety before a big test like the AP exams or the final exams. We all feel stressed before a deadline, whether it’s college application or a work project. It’s important to learn healthy ways to cope with your stress, and we hope this helps you in your journey in your high school and college admissions journey. More importantly, we wish these insights help you in life.


Need help getting ready for your AP exams or studying for your finals? Check out our 1:1 private tutoring for AP and academic subjects for students of all grades.


Want to strategize your college admissions plan? Contact us to schedule a meeting with our College Admissions Counselor for a 1-hour personalized college planning session!



Written by Priya Singh

This article is written by Insight College Admissions Counselor Priya Singh.

Priya Singh is a College Admissions Counselor and also an avid yogi. She often uses yoga and meditation to help students with learning and stress management during the college admissions process. Since 2014, she has helped many high school students, including students with learning disabilities, to reach their best-fit schools. Read her full bio here.

Community Service Ideas for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for love and joy. For students (and adults), it’s also a great time to give back. While it’s important to volunteer and help out in your community year-round, the holiday season can be a wonderful start for you. There are many activities you can explore during the short break, and you may just find the volunteer work that you truly enjoy!

Read more: Beyond College Admissions: Why Extracurricular and Summer Activities Matter?


Creative ways to give back during the holiday season

Insight Tip #1: Volunteer & Community Service

Check out your local hospital, community center, homeless shelter, or any other charitable organization to ask how you can help out.  Some hospitals, like El Camino Health, have youth programs designed for high school students, but those may require a longer period of time commitment. VolunteerMatch.org is a great resource to check out volunteering opportunities nearby.

Read more: The Gift of Service: Why and How Students Should Volunteer


tutoring to help others is one way for high school students to give back Insight Tip #2: Tutoring

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many students, especially those with fewer resources. Many are struggling to keep up with their schoolwork. Programs such as Reading Partners or Schoolhouse offer online tutoring for younger students. 


Insight Tip #3: Declutter

With the temperatures dropping, many charitable organizations have warm clothing or blanket drives. Take a weekend to go through your closet. Ask your family to join you. Check if your neighbors or friends have anything they can donate, too. You are helping out someone who needs the warmth AND someone who needs to take that step to declutter their home.


Insight Tip #4: Help your neighbors

baking cookies or cooking a hot meal for the homelessYou can also bake cookies (or cook a simple hot meal) and distribute them to the homeless. Ask your elder neighbors if they need help setting up lights and decorating the tree (if applicable) or help them with wrapping gifts or getting groceries. 


Insight Tip #5: Share your talents

Put on a show at your local hospice, senior centers, or hospitals. First, contact them to see if they can accommodate your band or carol-singing group. Perhaps even record yourselves during the performance and inspire others to donate or help out! Or start your own fundraiser and purchase gifts for children. For more ideas, check out DoSomething.org.


Giving back can be a wonderful feeling, and we hope these ideas can get you started! May your holidays be filled with love and laughter. 



Team Insight

Beyond College Admissions: Why Extracurricular and Summer Activities Matter?

Community service, student internship, and summer research – these days, high school students are trying to pack too many extracurriculars in their resumes, hoping to impress the admissions office. It’s common knowledge that other than a strong GPA and standardized test scores, colleges are looking for students who have devoted time in the fields of their interests. In this article, we will explore what other benefits students gain through their extracurricular and summer activities experience.


Time-Management Skill

Ask your parents or any adult and they will share the importance of time management. The ability to prioritize, focus, and balance your time is key to a less stressful and more productive life. College admissions officers know this, too! That’s why they want to see how you use your free time through extracurricular and summer activities. Once you’re in college, you’d be expected to juggle classes, activities, and social commitments. It’s good to get a head start now and learn how to manage your time and balance your life.


Community Service

It is more than just a graduation requirement or a checkmark in your college applications. Community service gives you the opportunity to give back and help those in need. At Insight, we encourage our students to think about how their skillsets can better the world around them. Whether it is tutoring kids or planting trees, volunteer work can expand your worldview. You may even find a cause that you wish to study further during college. Plus, it feels good to help others and give back!


Read more: Don’t Seek Summer Internships Just to Impress Admissions Officers 


Leadership Experience

Many extracurricular and summer activities offer the chance for you to take ownership of a project (or a piece of a project). Keep in mind that you don’t need the title to be a leader. Even if you aren’t the team captain or the club president, you can still be a leader. Leadership can be seeing a project from start to finish or guiding your teammates through a rough time. Building up leadership skills is important, not only in your college admissions but also in your career path.



Extracurricular activities and summer programs are excellent for expanding your network beyond school and family. You can meet students who share the same interest or adults who can mentor you. The friendships you build through these activities can help you throughout your life. Other than letters of recommendation, you may know just who to call for an internship or career advice.

Read more: The Value of Networking


Career Exploration

By exploring different activities, you may discover a few fields or potential career paths. Knowing your likes and dislikes can help you narrow down your majors and your college list. Beyond college admissions, these opportunities offer you an early insight into what the potential job entails and what skillsets you will need to excel in those fields.


Concluding Thoughts

While extracurricular and summer activities take time and effort to plan and participate in, there are so many benefits to getting involved. If you are not sure what you should do, we’re here to help! Schedule a 1-hour college planning session with our counselors today!

Every fall, Insight hosts a Summer Opportunities Fair for the Bay Area Community. This event is free for all students and parents to attend. Click HERE to learn more and sign up!

How to Combat Zoom Fatigue

If you are finding yourself exhausted between classes, office hours, webinars, and social time all on Zoom, you are not the only one. Over the past few months, “Zoom fatigue” or “Zoomed-out” have shown up more and more over social media and Google searches. Most importantly, it is probably showing up in your home. 


Why do we find video calls so draining? One of the reasons is that video calls require us to hyperfocus on conversations and facial expressions to absorb information. Unlike in-person, you cannot rely on body language or whispering to your neighbors to catch up if you daydream for a few minutes. In addition, the close-up, constant stare at a person’s face is uncomfortable and exhausting. 


But if you think the hyperfocusing improves our concentration, think again. On screens, we are used to chatting with our friends, checking emails, scrolling social media, and viewing Zoom in the Brady-bunch view. Our visual sense is overloaded with distractions and stimuli, all screaming for our attention.  


Thus, we are all Zoomed-out by 3 pm – if we even make it that long 


If this sounds like you, read on. Here are three simple tips to help you manage Zoom fatigue: 


1. Avoid Multitasking 


This was also true before sheltering in place. Studies have shown that doing multiple tasks at once diminishes performance. You are not being more productive by planning your research project during math class. In fact, it is counterproductive.  You will have to work twice as hard on your own to make up the content you missed during class. 


Insight Advice: The night before, print out everything you will need. Before class starts, close all your tabs, turn off notifications, and put away your phone and tablet. During class, take notes by hand. This will help you break the constant gaze and improve your recall. Also, avoid the chat function in Zoom. You cannot be focused on your teacher if your eyes and mind wander to the chain of messages being sent back and forth. 


2. Maximize Zoom and Choose Speaker View 


Research shows that you tend to spend more time staring at your face during video calls. On-screen distraction also involves staring at your friends and trying to figure out what’s in their background. These drain your focus and energy. 


Insight Advice: Maximize the video call window to block out other apps. Choose speaker view, so you are focused on your teacher and class materials. Avoid the temptation to look at your friends. 


3. Schedule Breaks and Commit 


This is another bit of advice that you will keep hearing throughout your life. Research shows that breaks can help you physically and mentally. Just like athletes need a good recovery stretch after a big game, we need to build-in productive breaks. 


Insight Advice: Every week, plan out your week ahead and schedule in breaks. For every two hours on screen, you need at least 15 minutes off-screen. Challenge yourself to commit to taking breaks. During your break time, walk away from all your electronic devices and opt to do something active. Take a short walk. Dance to your favorite music. These activities will help you recover quickly and boost your energy. (And your mood, too.) When you eat lunch, do so without a screen. Play some music or eat with a family member and allow yourself to just focus on the break. Think back to when recess was truly recess for you! The same advice follows when school is over. Take a break from screens and the pressure of school for at least 30 to 45 minutes before diving into your homework. 



These tips may be hard to follow at first but challenge yourself. Using these pieces of advice will help you study smarter, feel less stressed, and have more energy for other activities. It’s stressful to enter a new school year with a new norm, so why not make virtual school a little easier for yourself.